Why Were So Many Roofs Damaged During Hurricane Irma?

Hurricane Irma had many devastating effects. One of them was the damaged roofs of thousands of homes. This similar to storms Gene and Francis that hit in 2004 and Andrew that wreaked havoc across South Florida in 1993.

Several months later, hours and hours of dealing with insurance companies and more than 25,000 calls for service, roofing contractors estimate that it will take more than two years for all the roof damage to be rectified and for the roofs as a cause of Irma to return to their pre-hurricane condition.

This can get way more complex between the shortage of labor and issues with insurance. Currently, the supply doesn’t even come close to meet the demand when it comes to roofing contractors – with even local companies taking up to six weeks just to be able to schedule an estimate with a client. The amount of work to be done is immense – and it can take several months to complete the roofing process for each client.

There’s a 1000% increase in the amount of roofing permits being issued. In January alone, more than 1500 permits were issued by roofing contractors in Southwest Florida. This is also an indicator of the efficiency with which the local roofing contractors are working to meet the demand. They’re moving fast, but with the sheer amount of work involved, shortage of manpower is unavoidable. And this doesn’t just lead to longer wait times. It also leads to increased prices.

“Hurricane Irma damage on concrete tile roof in Naples, FL”

With a large chunk of Irma claims dealing with the damage to roofs caused by the storm it’s important to understand a little history about roofing and its evolution. As well as why we at Complete recommend certain types for some roofs and a completely different application for others.

Until the 1850s, clay tiles, slate shingles and wood were the popular roofing choices  and that went on until the 20th century. Concrete roofs were also adopted for some time during this period. Many new materials were then proposed, tried, scrapped and ultimately adopted for roofing purposes. One of the most popular ones was the asphalt shingle. It is one of the most used roofing materials to this day. But after years and years of experimentation with different materials, textures, patterns and shapes – we’ve come to the current roofing material in use, metal. And while one of the strongest argument for metal is the durability and resistance. The obvious downfall is that metal certainly does not contain the “natural element” of something like clay tile.

At Complete we’ve used both met and berridge in the past and they do in fact have a single tile application that mimics the aesthetics of decades old buildings. We’ve done several roofs with berridge, including large historic homes in the Carolinas that turned out beautifully.


“Screwed and glued” flat concrete tile install by Complete”

We are constantly learning what works and unfortunately what doesn’t in roofing. Our experience following hurricane Irma has been that we learned clay was more brittle and susceptible to damage even if it was installed to code. Which was a fine installation at the time. Unfortunately, post hurricanes is when building codes change. And post Irma was no exception. We now know that when adhesive or spray foam is added in addition to mechanical fasteners these roofs survived amazingly. This would be Complete’s number one suggestion as the homeowner gets the benefits of science and beauty, aesthetics and strength.

Additionally, based on our experience we’ve come to know that if you have tile at a high elevation on a condo building for instance that the wind speed much higher so the roofing has to be much stronger. Concrete flat tiles work great for these applications because of increased weight and a flat surface so there’s less exposure to lift.

“Hurricane Irma re-roofing project in Naples, FL by Complete”

We’ve also seen very careful interest by local building code officials in the repair of tile products on Marco island recently which we will discuss in detail in upcoming articles on our site. In short, anything over $1000 in repairs now requires a permit on the island and the need for an engineer to establish suitability in repair.

Lastly when determining roofing requirements, it’s important to understand that tile is not a waterproofing membrane. There are many flashings and roofing underlayments from 30lb felt to peel-and-seal tile products. But our favorite here at Complete Contracting is definitely modified bitchumen products.







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